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Are Bannon and Trump turning U.S. anti-immigrant enforcement agencies into their own paramilitary force?

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There are ominous signs that Stephen Bannon and Donald Trump have unleashed rogue elements within the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who are already violating the human rights of Latinos, Muslims and others.

Authoritarian regimes require their own paramilitary forces, and the White House plan to expand the Border Patrol and ICE gives Bannon and Trump a growing armed wing that is independent of local police, that can conduct raids anywhere in the United States, and that showed its enthusiasm for Trump by endorsing him well before before the election.

Under Bannon/Trump, the Border Patrol has already asked to reduce its standards for new recruits, loosening requirements that include a lie detector test, an entrance exam and background check. The proposal is dangerous, as James Tomsheck, a former high-ranking Border Patrol official has pointed out. Tomsheck, who should be getting far more news coverage, served for 8 years as head of the Border Patrol’s internal investigations.

Tomsheck says:

In the 40 years that I spent practicing law enforcement in three different agencies, it was my experience that the Border Patrol had an identity and a culture that was very different from the rest of U.S. law enforcement. They were an agency that had not always been held accountable.

He recalled the problems the last time the Border Patrol expanded greatly, under President George W. Bush.

We came to clearly understand that many of those persons who sought out positions with Border Patrol and Field Operations were doing so solely for the purpose of criminal opportunities and profit.

The Border Patrol rank-and-file showed its zeal for Trump all the way back in March 2016, when its union endorsed him for president, pointing out that “we are breaking with our past practice and giving our first-ever endorsement in a presidential primary.”

Another dangerous sign is that Bannon/Trump are reportedly proposing to appoint a rabid anti-immigrant figure to the Border Patrol’s number 3 post. Julie Kirchner is the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a notorious organization that the watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center has described as a “hate group” with nativist ties.

Bannon/Trump want to increase the Border Patrol from 19,500 to 26,400, and add 10,000 more ICE officers, tripling the present number. The figures may not sound large, but ICE especially can raid anywhere, and its first highly publicized acts over the past month have struck fear into immigrants all across America. Some  human rights violations have gotten publicity, including the ICE effort to deport a distinguished French scholar of the Holocaust and its harassment of a 70-year-old Australian woman who writes children’s books.

Mem Fox, the Australian author, said:

I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness.

But for every publicized case, how many ordinary Latinos and Muslims have been harassed, arrested and deported by uniformed officials and are too scared to report it?

And just exactly who will investigate as the reports of Border Patrol and ICE abuses continue to stream in?

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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13 Responses

  1. lysias on February 28, 2017, 6:41 pm

    They’re all corrupt.

    Ever wonder why Obama did so much for the banksters and the rest of the 1%? Record-breaking auction for Obamas’ book deal tops $60m: Two memoirs by former president and first lady kick off blockbuster bidding war.

    • Citizen on March 1, 2017, 8:46 am

      Not to mention Obama was very good to Israel, regardless of the shit he had to eat from Netanyahu. Such books deals, followed by shopping them in main media, and, of course, funding his presidential library.

  2. gamal on February 28, 2017, 6:43 pm

    “how many ordinary Latinos and Muslims have been harassed, arrested and deported by uniformed officials and are too scared to report it?”

    its not recent and as regards Muslim even the eminent can have problems, this man went to Davos every year and was a friend of Prince Philip, he was 82 not even offered a glass of water during 6 hours of questioning under armed guard, though he received a grovelling apology and a note from C. Rice that was insolent and idiotic he died within 6 months which is the only reason he never returned to the US where he had again been invited.

    This man faced down an irate mostly Muslim Hausa mob of several hundred who wanted to kill 60 Igbo Christians sheltering in his house during an especially awful moment of the Biafran war, entirely on his own with out any hope of help from police or anyone,

    not cleared for entry to the states.

    Muting the Muslims
    by Joshua Frank
    July 16, 2005

    “First it was folk singer Yusuf Islam, better known as Cat Stevens, who was denied entry into the United States, and now we have internationally renowned British Muslim scholar Dr. Zaki Badawi, who this week was also denied entry and sent back to the UK. Popular Muslims aren’t popular in America.

    Badawi is the head of the Muslim College in London and is the former imam of London’s most famous mosque, Regent’s Park Mosque. On July 14, Badawi flew to New York City to give a talk at the prestigious Chautauqua Institute. Unfortunately he never made it to his lecture, as he was stuck in a small room and forced to answer the secret service’s invasive questions for six long hours, only to be put on a plane and flown back to the UK.”

  3. Keith on February 28, 2017, 7:19 pm

    JAMES TOMSHECK- “They were an agency that had not always been held accountable.”

    Unlike the CIA?

    JAMES NORTH- “Bannon/Trump want to increase the Border Patrol from 19,500 to 26,400, and add 10,000 more ICE officers, tripling the present number.”

    Are you aware that Obama doubled the size of the Special Operations Forces which are now operating in about 130 countries worldwide? That Obama deported a record 2.5 million aliens? That Obama prosecuted more whistle blowers than all previous administrations combined? Sure, the current administration is deplorable, however, it is more a continuation of Deep State policy than a radical departure. Things are going to continue to get worse as long as the citizenry supports either of the corporate parties or candidates.

  4. annie on February 28, 2017, 7:33 pm

    thanks james

  5. wondering jew on February 28, 2017, 8:47 pm

    This is indeed quite alarming.

    My initial reaction to the possibility of ICE coming to the streets of new York city: it reminds me of those who came north pursuing fugitive slaves.

    Also: those who minimize the dangers of trump are part of the problem.

    • Keith on March 1, 2017, 11:09 am

      YONAH FREDMAN- “…those who minimize the dangers of trump are part of the problem.”

      Those who focus exclusively on Trump while ignoring the systemic nature of our current ongoing disaster are a much greater problem.

  6. just on February 28, 2017, 9:04 pm

    “And just exactly who will investigate as the reports of Border Patrol and ICE abuses continue to stream in?”

    Not Jeff Sessions and not the FBI and not the CIA nor anyone that is Trump.

    Last month, I cited this about Kirchner here @ MW:

    “”Former Executive Director of Anti-Immigrant Hate Group FAIR Joins Trump Administration

    Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has been named chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    Kirchner worked at America’s most influential anti-immigrant organization for almost ten years before leaving in 2015 to become an immigration advisor to the Trump campaign.

    The appointment, reported by multiple sources, suggests that President Trump intends to follow through with his promises to anti-immigrant advocates. Throughout his campaign, Trump worked closely with nativist leaders and has appointed individuals such as U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) and Mike Pompeo (Director of the Central Intelligence Agency) who maintain cozy relationships with America’s anti-immigrant movement.

    After Trump’s election, and certainly throughout his campaign, nativists have rejoiced with their newfound intimacy with the White House, and Kirchner’s appointment is only the latest of extremists groups suddenly enjoying a direct line to federal power.

    Since its founding in 1979, FAIR has push an agenda centered on a complete moratorium on all immigration to the United States and defined by vicious attacks on non-white immigrants. Its founder was white nationalist John Tanton, an avowed eugenicist who created the modern anti-immigrant movement in the United States. …”

    Did you read this?

    “US border agents ask Muhammad Ali’s son: ‘Are you a Muslim?’

    Boxing legend’s 44-year-old son detained and questioned about religion after flying back to US from Jamaica, lawyer says

    Border agents detained and questioned the son of the boxing legend Muhammad Ali about his religion when he flew back to the US this month, a family lawyer said.

    “Where did you get your name from? Are you a Muslim?” they asked the 44-year-old Muhammad Ali Jr, who was born in Philadelphia and is a US citizen.

    When Ali confirmed to immigration officials at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood international airport in Florida that he was a Muslim, they began questioning him about where he was born, family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini told the Courier-Journal newspaper. The questioning lasted for about two hours.

    Ali had been at a black history month event in Jamaica with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali. She was allowed to enter the country after producing a photo of herself with her famous ex-husband, who died last year, but her son had nothing to prove his link to the boxer.

    The 7 February incident was the first time the family had been detained or questioned in this way, despite regular international travel, Mancini said.

    They consider it religious profiling linked to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to bring in a “Muslim ban” and his now-suspended executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

    “To the Ali family, it’s crystal clear that this is directly linked to Mr Trump’s efforts to ban Muslims from the United States,” Mancini said, adding that they were trying to find out how many others faced similar questioning, and were contemplating filing a federal lawsuit.

    “Imagine walking into an airport and being asked about your religion,” Mancini told the paper. “This is classic customs profiling.”

    Ali’s is the latest in a string of complaints about US immigration controls after the inauguration of Trump.

    The former prime minister of Norway was held for nearly an hour at Washington Dulles airport earlier this month and questioned over a visit to Iran three years ago, which he had made to speak at a human rights conference. …

    … A British Muslim schoolteacher travelling to New York last week as a member of a school party from south Wales was denied entry to the US. The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had previously claimed the US government had committed to allowing all UK passport holders to enter the country.”

    more @

  7. Kay24 on March 1, 2017, 7:12 am

    As predicted, Trump made sure he affirmed the love and support the US has for Israel.
    President after President….

    • Citizen on March 1, 2017, 8:54 am

      Yes, right out of the box deploring recent anti-semitic activity, vandalism, followed later by a crystal clear, carefully announced declaration of America’s total loyalty to Israel. During his speech, no other ally was specified, all subsumed under generality.

      • eljay on March 1, 2017, 9:49 am

        Donald Trump’s Congress speech (full text)

        … I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel. …

        Demonize Iran and glorify Israel: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  8. [email protected] on March 1, 2017, 1:19 pm

    Totally not into the idea, but not a fan of misleading headlines either. Whatever Trump and Bannon are cooking up, it is misleading to call it “anti-immigration.”

  9. Maghlawatan on March 1, 2017, 3:27 pm

    Richard Spencer is a neo Nazi close to Bannon . The name of the game is a permanent white majority . No immigration.

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